Happy hunting for Hodge outside Beale, Toomua

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

The Wallabies appear set to stick with Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua as their 10-12 combination to face the Springboks and that's fine by Reece Hodge despite an admission of "frustration" with the Australian attack.

The Wallabies have the attacking arsenal to compete with the world's best and have shown as much in patches through the last 12 months but there has been an element of rocks or diamonds to their play since coach Michael Cheika benched Bernard Foley in favour of the incumbent playmaking pair.

The match against Argentina was a prime example of the attack's unpredictability.

Will Genia's try was as crisp a five pointer as the team have scored all year and it took a pair of pinpoint passes to put Israel Folau through a hole before he stepped his way to the line.

But that attacking magic went missing in a subpar second half and Hodge admitted there was consequently a sense of frustration among the Aussie backs.

"It's frustrating, that's the word that sums it up," Hodge said.

"We all know what we can produce on our day but consistent is what's killing us at the moment, both within the game and game-to-game.


"We are capable of some brilliance and ultimately our goal is to produce that.

"We haven't done that (for 80 minutes) this season but it's an opportunity to show what we're really capable of."

The two men charged with steering the Australian attack against the Springboks will almost certainly be Beale and Toomua.

While they have shown some superb flashes in attack against both South Africa and Argentina the pair have not set the world alight.

Having not played any consistent rugby together in the last four years the occasional mistimed pass or fumbled ball is understandable but Foley will be breathing down their necks should the Australians splutter in Port Elizabeth.

In Hodge's eyes having all three to call upon can only mean good things.

"Three world class players... a lot of their game is based on how well they communicate with the team and how well they direct the team around the paddock," Hodge said.

"(Beale and Toomua) are starting to build a good combination there.

"I'd say it's a rotating combination between the three and they all bring a hell of a lot to the squad.

"It's exciting to think of the possibilities in terms of the opportunities they can create for us as an outside back group.


"It's up to us to finish it off."

Finishing opportunities was certainly not a strong suit for the Wallabies in their loss to Argentina.

There was plenty of dropped ball in the Argentinian half and after playing particularly well in his first Test on the wing for the year Israel Folau blundered the chance to win the match at the death.

Folau's decision to dummy certainly hurt the Australians at the time but he will be imperative to their success on Sunday (AEST).

"There's a few moves we might be interchanging a little bit, not necessarily the way we did it against Argentina," Hodge said.

"There is an exciting prospect of Izzy getting involved more in the front line and getting us that go-forward ball to play off the phase."

If the forward pack can provide clean ball, Beale and Toomua can gel and Folau can fire the Wallabies will be on their way to an upset win in Port Elizabeth.

Hodge is hopeful everything is coming together against a Springboks side out to prove their win in New Zealand was no fluke.

"Their fans are going to want to see some consistency so it's a huge occasion for them, as it is for us," he said.

"We're on the verge of having to build some momentum in the end-of-year Tests.

"It's a massive game us and for them it's no different."

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